Beating bowel cancer together

Ambassadors and patrons

We have the pleasure to be able to call on some amazing celebrities to act as patrons to promote our work.

Christina Lakin (founding patron)

Christina’s father, Patrick Dolan, set up The Britta Dolan Memorial Cancer Fund, now known as Bowel Cancer UK, after his wife, Britta Dolan, died from bowel cancer on 7 October 1987.

The charity was founded to develop treatments for bowel cancer. Patrick was frustrated with the lack of treatment options, information and support for patients with the disease in the UK, which meant he had to turn to specialists in America for his wife’s treatment.

Christina said: “I am deeply honoured to be announced as the founding patron for Bowel Cancer UK. My father's unwavering commitment to this cause and his dedication to improving treatment options for my mother and those affected by advanced bowel cancer have always inspired me. I am proud to carry on his legacy and work alongside this incredible charity to continue our shared vision of a future where nobody dies from the disease.”

Lord Foster (president)

Our President Lord Foster, creator of projects such as Stansted Airport, London's Millennium Bridge and 30 St Mary Axe (known as the Gherkin), wants to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

Lord Foster said: "I'm delighted to be Bowel Cancer UK's President. I want to help raise awareness that early diagnosis of the disease leads to a high chance of survival. Regular exercise and eating healthily is a crucial factor in reducing your risk of developing bowel cancer."

Tom Hardy

Oscar nominated Actor Tom Hardy became our patron in 2012 after attending our 25th Anniversary celebration at number 10 Downing Street. Best known for roles in Legend, Inception and The Revenant, Tom was honoured to become a patron to help the charity raise awareness.

Tom said: "I am delighted to become a patron of Bowel Cancer UK. I'd like to help the charity to increase awareness and help stop people dying needlessly from the disease. I hope you'll join me."

Charlotte Riley

Actress Charlotte became our patron along with her partner Tom Hardy in 2012 after attending our 25th Anniversary celebration. She chose to support us to make sure that both women and men are aware of the symptoms bowel cancer.

Charlotte said: "I am thrilled to become a patron of Bowel Cancer UK. I'm joining the charity to make sure that both women and men are aware of the symptoms of the disease and know what to do about them. Early diagnosis is so crucial to saving lives."

Dame Deborah James

Deborah (@bowelbabe) was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2016, when she was just 35 years old. Through her weekly column with The Sun Online and her award-winning BBC podcast 'You, Me and The Big C', as well as presenting programmes like BBC Panaroma on the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients, she helps to raise important awareness of bowel cancer especially in people under 50. She's an author of the best-selling book, 'F*** You Cancer: How to face the big C, live your life and still be yourself', and her second book will be published later this year, titled 'How to live when you could be dead'. Deborah was awarded a Damehood on Thursday 12 May 2022.

Deborah said: "I'm really honoured and proud to be named patron of Bowel Cancer UK. It's a charity very close to my heart which has supported me since I was diagnosed over four years ago. Right now, bowel cancer is the UK's second biggest cancer killer, and quite simply I want us to get to a place where nobody dies of the disease. I will do everything I can as a Patron to help make this a reality."

Sadly Dame Deborah James died on Tuesday 28 June 2022. Read our full statement.

Jeremy Bowen

Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East Editor, decided to join the charity as a Patron after he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. 

Jeremy says: "This excellent charity does a huge amount of work to stop people dying of bowel cancer so I wanted to help by giving them my support."

Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE

Baroness Floella Benjamin became a patron of the charity in January 2013. She is best known as the iconic presenter of the BBC’s Playschool, although she is also an actress, author, singer, businesswoman and politician. In 2010, Floella was introduced to the House of Lords as a Life Peer nominated by the Liberal Democrats.

She says: "It's over nine years since my beloved mother 'Marmie' passed away. I miss her so, but feel her presence in everything I do. A beautiful woman whose legacy lives on and will do forever. Sadly, she died from bowel cancer, which is why I have become an active patron of Bowel Cancer UK."

Matt Dawson MBE

Part of the England rugby squad that took the country to victory in the 2003 World Cup, Matt Dawson is an institution in the world of rugby. He is a team captain on BBC's A Question of Sport and took part in the BBC's Celebrity Masterchef and Strictly Come Dancing.

Matt says: "My grandfather died from bowel cancer more than twenty years ago, and my mum was diagnosed with the disease but luckily she’s made a full recovery. Knowing the symptoms and visiting your GP if things don’t feel right can help increase chances of an early diagnosis, which could save your life."

Vicky Fleetwood

Professional rugby player, former junior hurdler, personal trainer and Rugby World Cup winner Vicky Fleetwood became a patron in April 2022, during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Vicky lost her mum, Pam, to bowel cancer in 2016 at the age of 62.

Vicky says: "Becoming a patron for Bowel Cancer UK is so important to me. Lots of people know very little about bowel cancer or its symptoms and I really want to raise awareness so people stop dying of this disease."

Matthew Wright

Matthew is a journalist and has worked for The Sun and The Daily Mirror, presented Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff for 18 years and now presents The Matthew Wright Show on TalkRadio.

Matthew’s father died from bowel cancer at 53 years old in 1997, and his grandfather was also diagnosed with the disease but made a full recovery. He is now passionate about raising awareness of bowel cancer and supports our fundraising and campaigning work.

Sean Fletcher

Good Morning Britain TV presenter Sean Fletcher has supported the charity since September 2015. Sean’s mother died of bowel cancer when she was just 54 years old. Sean ran the London Marathon in her memory in April 2015 and appeared alongside his wife in ITV’s All Star Mr and Mrs raising an impressive £30,000.

Angus MacDonald

Rotherham United footballer Angus became patron of the charity in April 2020, during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Angus was diagnosed with bowel cancer in August 2019 aged 26 and has undergone two operations to remove his entire large bowel, and have his stoma reversed. He was given the amazing news that he was all clear just before Christmas 2019.

Angus says: “I want to support Bowel Cancer UK to help raise awareness and encourage younger people to recognise the symptoms and visit their GP if they’re concerned.”

Joe Gray

Professional rugby player Joe became patron of the charity in April 2020, during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Joe’s dad Paul passed away in March 2020 after being diagnosed with bowel cancer four years ago.

Joe says: “Being a patron of Bowel Cancer UK is really special to me. My dad was diagnosed after he completed the bowel cancer screening test sent in the post when he turned 60. I want to raise awareness and funds to help stop people dying of bowel cancer.”

Kevin Sheedy

Irish footballer Kevin Sheedy has supported the charity since 2014, after he was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012. Both his parents have been affected by the disease. Following treatment, Kevin was given the all-clear and is now helping to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

He says: “I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, but it was caught early. The most important thing is to see your GP if you notice any symptoms. Doing that saved my life.”

Rupert Evans

British actor Rupert Evans' (The Man In The High Castle, American Pastoral) family has been directly affected by bowel cancer.

Rupert says: “Being a patron of Bowel Cancer UK means the world to me. It’s a charity very close to my heart and I know first-hand how devastating this disease can be on the individual and the whole family. Bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, but it doesn’t have to be this way - it’s treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.” 

Connor Swindells

British actor, model and former boxer Connor Swindells, best known for playing Adam Groff in Netflix’s Sex Education, decided to support the charity as his family have been affected by the disease.

Connor says: “Being a patron of Bowel Cancer UK is very special to me. I always knew that if I made it as an actor, I would use my position to raise awareness of bowel cancer. It’s the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, but it doesn’t have to be this way - it’s treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early.”

The Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis

Ephraim Mirvis is Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. He is only the 11th Chief Rabbi to take up this position since the office was introduced in 1704. He chose to support us to help raise awareness.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis said, "Bowel cancer can be a devastating diagnosis, affecting not just the individual concerned but the whole family.  That's why I very much welcome this invitation from Bowel Cancer UK to become a patron of the charity, anything I can do to help prevent families from living through this kind of experience can only be a positive thing."

Charlene White

ITN presenter Charlene is deeply dedicated to raising awareness of bowel cancer after losing her mother to the disease when she was just 21.

Charlene said: "Becoming a patron for the charity means a lot to me. I lost my mother to bowel cancer when I was 21, after quite a few years of illness - so I am passionate about the issues and the charity. So many people are still so unaware of the illness despite someone dying every 30 minutes of bowel cancer.

"That's why more people need to learn to spot the signs early - as it's highly treatable. I know we're constantly told that we should be eating healthily - but simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can save your life. And it's important that we all understand that...before it's too late".

Dr Chris Steele MBE, MB, ChB

Dr Chris Steele qualified as a doctor in 1968 and has worked as a GP in South Manchester ever since.

He is best known as the resident medical expert on ITV’s This Morning since the programme began in 1988, taking live phone-ins on a wide range of medical topics. 

Lord Nigel Crisp, KCB

Lord Crisp has been a patron since 2011. A former chief executive of the NHS and permanent secretary of the Department of Health, Lord Crisp led major reforms in the English health system. Since his retirement in 2006, his significant contribution to British and international healthcare has continued through his work as an independent crossbench member of the House of Lords.

An eminent figure in the healthcare sector and held in high esteem by healthcare professionals and politicians alike, Lord Crisp’s patronage will be a tremendous asset to the charity.

Pamela Ballantine

Pamela is known to many people in Northern Ireland through her role as a UTV presenter, in a career spanning 31 years. She is currently a freelance presenter, reporter and on radio station U105. Pamela's move to support our work has been motivated by a devastating personal loss.

Pamela said:"I lost my friend a few years ago to bowel cancer. That's why I understand how important it is to raise awareness of this disease. I really want to do anything I can to make more people aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer and I'd like to urge anyone who is concerned to visit their GP."

Freya North

Freya, described as one of the UK’s most beloved and interesting contemporary women’s fiction authors, lost a good friend to the disease in 2013. In memory of her friend Hannah Berry, who passed away aged 30, Freya is keen to help raise awareness of the disease.

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